So besides the usual answers of write regularly and write often, what can a struggling writer do? Many things, in fact, so let’s cut right to the chase.
Boredom: Novelist Elmore Leonard encouraged writers to “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip,” when asked of the writing rules he lives by. I’ve always remembered this quote, mainly because I find it to be quite accurate. If I’m reading magazines or books that I just don’t care that much about, I’ll often scan through them. If something grabs my attention, I’ll read it. If something doesn’t, I’ll skip it. Lots of people read to escape boredom. Whether it’s sitting on the bus, taking that long international flight, or just waiting at the dentist’s office, people are trying to escape their rather dull existence, even if just for a few moments. No piece of writing is so critical to your text or story that it can’t be changed to read better, and bore less.
Confidence: Nothing is a greater turnoff when you’re looking for a date than a man or woman who isn’t confident. Notice how they always question themselves and apologize profusely for even the most mundane of things? Well, if you’re writing without confidence, you’ll come off just the same as that lame date you had three weeks ago, the one you wish would take a hint and stop calling already. Mark Twain told writers to “show, don’t tell,” but I’ll tell you what Twain, I’ll damn well tell you, and you’ll listen because I know what I’m talking about and if you’ve made it this far, you agree. If you’re confident, it will come across. If you write with a clear, authoritative voice, it will come across. People will respect you, even if they don’t always agree with you.